Asked about Splice Agency’s 2020 performance, founder, client partnerships Paul Hagopian is quick with the stats that matter most to members of the firm’s leadership team. “Among our people, we had two childbirths and one adoption,” he says, quickly adding that “three more are on the way.”

Every company in the Agency 100 is quick to rhapsodize about the generosities it bestows upon its people — and, especially after a year like 2020, to enumerate the steps it took to restore work/life
balance. By contrast, Splice is the one of the few agencies that has been people-first since well before the pandemic forced everybody into their kitchens-turned-virtual-offices.

“When we started Splice, we made it about helping people find enjoyment and satisfaction in the agency world,” says founder, strategy Jonathan Peischl. “It has always been about making sure they’re OK, rather than focusing on work all the time.”

Splice Agency

In 2020, that took the form of a half-day Fridays program that has endured well into 2021 and support when raging wildfires invaded the firm’s San Francisco-area home region. “The question was how we were going to help people when the world was literally on fire,” Peischl continues, noting that Splice provided power supplies and industrial-grade masks. “Once people started taking days for themselves to deal with it all, that was a big moment of relief.”

Bigger-picture challenges notwithstanding, Splice enjoyed perhaps its most successful year to date in 2020. Revenue shot up 68%, to $13.1 million from 2019’s take of $7.8 million, on the back of new assignments from Avion Pharmaceuticals (on Cenestin, for reduction of menopause symptoms), Vertice (on hypothyroidism drug Thyquidity) and Santen (on Verkazia, for children and adolescents with a severe allergic eye condition).

Hagopian is particularly proud of Splice’s work on the Santen business. “They’re a powerhouse in ophthalmology except in the U.S., which is unusual,” he says. “They’re trusting us to bring them back onto the scene. We’re taking this huge company and having them act like a startup.”

Smaller biotechs tend to be Splice’s client sweet spot. “To be brutally honest, we don’t exist to big pharma,” Peischl says. And the agency is fine with that. By way of example, Hagopian points to Splice’s relationship with Puma Biotechnology, which upped the firm’s workload even after a management change.

“They allowed us to take a risk and create something that maybe would make people feel a little bit uncomfortable. That’s the kind of amazing creative process you want,” he says.

Hagopian expects Splice’s growth spurt to extend through 2021 and beyond: “I can say with 100% certainty that we’ll have another year of 50% to 60% growth. What’s more, the 60 or so full-
timers on board as of mid-April will likely approach three figures before too long. “We’ve been really blessed. We’ve been struck by lightning every year, sometimes multiple times in a year,” he adds.

“The goal is to grow responsibly while maintaining what we have,” Peischl says. “I hope everyone can look back and say that this is the same great agency they started working for six months or two years or five years ago.”

. . .

The idea I wish I had…

We loved the Reddit Super Bowl spot, which was only five seconds long and flashed across the screen so quickly that viewers must have thought it was a glitch. It was a fantastic use of the medium; they understood that people are watching TV through a service that allows them to pause. It was the cheapest Super Bowl spot, yet it ended up being the most talked-about one. All in all, it was a genius mixture of knowing your customer and the channel, and delivering a memorable message in a remarkable way. — Paul Hagopian